Tag Archives: roleplaying

How Stranger Things is just like a table top roleplaying session

So, me and my girlfriend recently finished Stranger Things, a series that we picked based on absolutely everyone’s recommendations, including every twitter account I “follow” and every person I’ve befriended so far on Facebook. Here are my two Swedish Öre.

It’s good. Good direction, good editing, good soundtrack; simply a good production. However, it’s ultimately a children’s movie, where each actor has the same facial expression all the time.

dyerscreenHere’s Natalie Dyer doing hers

And since I’m not a child, Stranger Things can’t be more than a decent experience all in all.

Okay, I’ll just spill it: I’m no sucker for nostalgia. Or maybe I would be if there wasn’t so god damn much of it in the movie industry today. It’s absurd that some 95% of all Hollywood money is used to cater for dudes in their mid thirties who refuse to grow up. And not only do fully functioning adults keep spending time and money to see their favourite childhood comic book heroes/villains fight each other for the umptieth time, they go completely berserk if said hero/villain isn’t portrayed exactly according to their preferences, upon which they’ll claim their childhood is ruined, as if that’s something that can happen retroactively.


One thing I found pretty hilarious with Stranger Things is that much, if not most, of the plot plays out pretty much exactly like our pen-and-paper RPG adventures did (yes, I was that geeky back in the day (okay, still am)).

Especially the segment where Chief Hopper decides to enter the lab is just as haphazard and poorly planned as our roleplaying sessions used to be. I have structured the similarities into a neat bullet list:

  • Entering the [evil lair/haunted house/governmental lab] without anything even resembling a plan.
    At a certain point in every table top roleplaying session, the players will grow tired of rolling library checks and other information-gathering procedures and decide to go for broke. This happens because a) it’s getting late and damn it if we don’t see some action soon, and b) the dungeon master usually doesn’t kill off characters at this early stage.
    The way Hopper rushed into that base made Leroy Jenkins appear a model of prudence, if you know what I’m saying.
  • Relying on one highly unrealistic attack/trick/spell that works perfectly every time.
    It’s funny in this age of publicly available UFC tournaments and the general de-mystification of martial arts how the knock-out trope can survive in popular media. The best and strongest strikers in the world of professional fighters can’t put someone to sleep more than a couple of percent of all attempts, and at most for a couple of seconds at a time, but on TV it’s such a foolproof and consequence-free method of sedating others it’s strange they don’t use it as anaesthesia in hospitals.
    Hopper has exactly the reckless and optimistic approach to fisticuffs as an RPG character who’s got way too many fortune points (or whatever heroic luck system your game had) left to bother about subtlety or precision.
  • Failing completely but inexplicably avoiding being killed. Phew, the DM was in a generous mood tonight! Or just too afraid of conflicts. Either way, instead of having to tear the character sheet in twain and start rolling stats all over again, we’ll pretend it actually fits the villain’s scheme better if your character is left alive. Even though it makes no god damn sense.
    We already know that the bad guys in Stranger Things won’t hesitate to murder people left and right if they just happen to be in the general vicinity, but Hopper, who’s just infiltrated their entire evil headquarters and moreover knows they put a stuffed doll in the morgue plus lots of other compromising stuff, yeah, let’s keep him alive. Let’s put him back in his couch and hope he’ll think it was all a beer-induced dream.

I guess criticising Strange Things for being hilariously close to a bunch of 15-year-olds’ late night Dungeons & Dragons is kind of pointless. It’s nostalgia, right?


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